Automakers and tire manufacturers recommend tire rotation. Their recommended durations may differ, but they all say that you need to rotate your tires. Tires may not be your priority when you consider the safety of your car, but they are ideal in the performance of your car.
There are different types of tires engineered to handle different terrains and different weather conditions. These tires make the connection between the road and your vehicle, and you need to know how to take care of them. Most drivers do not pay attention to the condition of tires during routine vehicle maintenance, but that should be the case.
Is it OK to Rotate Tires Every 10,000 Miles?
Yes, you should rotate your tires at least once every 10,000 miles. Most tire manufacturers and automakers recommend that you rotate the tire during routine oil change. If you change the oil once a year, you will need to rotate the wheels once a year.
If you drive more, you should rotate the tires at least twice a year. In most cases, manufacturers recommend you change the vehicle oil after every 7,500 miles or after six months. Some automakers stretch the mileage to 10,000 miles.
If you drive a Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagen, it is okay to change the oil after 10,000 miles and also okay to rotate the tires then. Other automakers such as BMW recommend oil changes after 15,000 miles. However, you shouldn’t wait that long to rotate the tires as they will wear out a lot.
Unless you do not drive more than 7,500 miles a year, it is advisable to rotate tires every six months. There are several factors that will determine how often to rotate tires. Read on to learn more.
What Does Tire Rotation Do?
Tire rotation is crucial in ensuring that tires on your vehicle wear out evenly. This is the simplest way to extend the productive life of your tires and save you money you’d otherwise spend on replacement.
When tires wear out evenly, they give you balance handling. For instance, if you drive a front-wheel drive car and then fail to rotate the tires, the front wheels will wear out faster and have no treading after some time. In such a case, the vehicle becomes extremely challenging to control, especially when you drive on wet ground.
If your vehicle has alignment problems or doesn’t have suspension, it will cause uneven wear on your tires and this might make the tires less durable. One of the common uneven wear is tread cupping, which results in vibration and noise when you drive. You can ensure this does not happen by rotating your tires.
Even if you do not rotate tires for all other reasons, do it because the tire manufacturer requires it to keep your warranty alive. If you fail to rotate tires, you can forget any warranty you might have had on them.
How Many Miles Should You Drive Before You Rotate Your Tires?
Your driving style, driving conditions, and the type of drivetrain of your vehicle determine how often to rotate tires. Drivetrains inflict unusual wear on the tires and this necessitates the need to rotate the tires.
The FWD car has more weight on the front tires, which are the driven tires. The engine is on the front axle and this exerts so much pressure on the front tires. Granted, the front tires will wear out faster than rear tires.
The front tires steer the car. When rotating tires on FWD vehicles, the front tires need to go to the rear and the rear tires to the front. Ensure that the left rear tire replaces the right front tire and the right rear tire changes position with the left front tire.
In rear-wheel drive vehicles, there is more balanced wear between the front and rear wheels. The rear tires send power to the pavement to move the vehicle forward while the front tires steer the vehicle. Even though all tires have some work to do, the wear patterns on the tires are still different on the tires, and you need to rotate them.
When rotating wheels in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, move the rear wheels to the front and maintain their side. This means the right rear tire should replace the right front tire. When you move the front wheels, interchange their sides such that the right front tire replaces the left rear tire.
All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive
These vehicles send power to all the wheels at the same time for AWD and equally for 4WD. It is more important to rotate tires for these two vehicles as you need even tread wear. If you fail to rotate tires and the vehicle develops uneven wear, the wear will place so much strain on the drivetrain.
Subaru recommends that variations in tread depth in all tires in its AWD vehicles should not go beyond 2/32 of an inch. There are AWD and 4WD models that stay in 2WD mode until more traction is needed. This means that the car is in FWD most of the time and the front tires wear out more.
The vehicle only shifts to AWD or 4WD when you need to drive on slippery grounds. Granted, rotating the tires ensure that you get even wear and better balanced handling.
If your vehicle experiences tread wear differences of more than 2/32 of an inch, it means you need to rotate the tires more often. During tire rotation for AWD and 4WD vehicles, follow the same procedure as for RWD vehicles. The rear tires will move to the front and retain their sides while the front tires should move to opposite sides.
Can You Rotate Your Own Tires?
Yes, if you have the necessary tools, and you are handy around your car, it is easy to rotate your wheels.
Can you rotate your tires too often if you do it yourself? No, you can only do it as you see fit as the driving conditions will differ from one car to the next. To rotate your tires, ensure you have the following tools:
- A work area
- Jack and jack stands
- Wheel chock
- Torque wrench
- Standard spanners and other hand tools
You also need to have enough muscle power to untighten those bolts and nuts. Note that, it is dangerous to get under your car if you only have it supported by a jack. Below are a few pointers to observe when rotating your tires at home or at the garage:
Before the rotation, examine the tires for signs of damage to the sidewall and tread. Again, check the date code of the tires to ensure you are not using tires older than six years. Tire manufacturers and automakers recommend that you replace the tires after six years as older tires are unsafe.
However, there are some manufacturers that recommend replacements after 10 years. You can tell the age of your tires by checking the last digit of the DOT code. For instance, a tire with a code 2518 means it was produced on the 25th week of 2018.
A torque wrench comes in handy when tightening the lug nuts of your wheels. The wrench ensures that your wheels get proper mounting without the nuts being too loose or too tight.
If the nuts are too loose, they might come off when you are driving, putting you in danger. If the nuts are too tight, the wheel might cause warping of the brake rotor. This can then result in wheel vibration when you stop your vehicle and the braking might take longer.
Again, if the nuts are too tight, and you get a flat away from home, the small wrench you have handy in your vehicle may not help you. With a torque wrench, you will tighten the nuts to meet the typical specifications of between 75 and 100 lb. ft. of torque.
The specification varies from one vehicle to the next, so check with the automaker or the manual of your vehicle.
After the rotation, you need to check and adjust the air pressure of the tires. If the tires need to have different pressures for the front and rear tires, ensure that is the case. You need to check the tire pressure when the tires are cold using an accurate gauge.
If your vehicle has staggered wheels, where the rear tires are larger than the front, you need to execute side-to-side rotation. You may also have a spare tire and spare wheel that is the same as the driven wheels. If such is the case, you will need to have a five-tire rotation pattern.
Note that, tire rotation will help ensure tires wear out evenly. However, if the tires are already worn out unevenly, rotating them will not help correct that. Your suspension, inflation issues, and alignment problems will affect how tires wear out, and that cannot be correct through tire rotation.
What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Rotate Tires?
Tires that never rotate as often as they should develop an unusual and permanent wear pattern. The pattern affects the balance of your vehicle and makes handling a challenge. You will also experience a noisy and rough ride, and your tires will be less durable.
Instead of all these issues, you can rotate your tires every 10,000 miles or even every 6,000 miles. Check your automaker’s and your tire manufacturer’s recommendations and choose the best time to rotate the tires.
Rotating the tires does not affect the alignment of your wheels. After tire rotation, a professional will perform wheel balancing, and this should cater for any wheel issues you may have. If you are not sure of what you should do, avoid rotating your own tires and have a professional do it.
If the tires are out of shape or the treads are severely worn out, a simple rotation will not solve your problems. In case of normal wear, rotating tires and balancing the wheels will stop issues such as vibration and noise. However, if the damage is too much, you may need to replace the tires.
How Much Does it Cost to Rotate Your Tires?
It can be free if you have the right skills and the right tool to do it at home. If you take your vehicle to a mechanic, rotating the tires should not cost more than $40.
Most drivers prefer to have tire rotation during oil change or during routine car maintenance. If that is your case, it will cost you even less than $40 to rotate the tires. In some auto shops, the cost of tire rotation is part of the cost of oil change.
You may feel that this is expensive, but rotating the tires improves vehicle traction and ensures you are safe on the road at all times. It is also important in fuel conservation.
How Do You Know It is Time to Replace the Tires?
Tire rotation is great, but it has its limits. If you have had your tires for longer than six years, you need to start considering tire replacement. However, some tires can last for up to ten years, sometimes more.
I recommend that you check your automaker’s and tire manufacturer’s recommendation. If you drive a lot, you may need to replace after only a few years of driving.
During tire replacement, you need to replace all the tires even if some are not completely worn out. This ensures you have perfect balance and great handling. Again, ensure you choose the right traction rating and right brand.
You should rotate your tires at least once after every 10,000 miles. However, there are several factors that determine how often to rotate tires, including the driving conditions. If you always drive off-road in rugged environments, you may need to rotate the tires more often.
Rotating the tires more often can have an impact on the lug nuts and wheel studs, but that is a non-issue when you consider the safety you get when you rotate tires. If you can do it at home, you will save a few dollars and probably do it more than if you have to take it to a mechanic.